JpPresser: The Bears finish strong in San Diego

Jarrett Payton's Postgame Presser

Lamarr Houston celebrates after one of his sacks in the fourth quarter to secure a 22-19 Bears victory.
(Chris Sweda / Chicago Tribune)

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Most football fans thought that the Monday Night matchup between the Bears and the Chargers would be a dud, but it ended up being a bolt of fun. The Chicago Bears did something they haven’t done in a few weeks…Win! They did it in a way that makes me happy. They finished the game on offense and defense in the fourth quarter. Coming into this game the Bears were injury plagued at key positions. That didn’t stop the Bears from finding a way to win the game. This win is just what the Bears needed to get this 2nd half of the season started. Let’s jump into my five takeaways from the 22-19 win for our beloved Chicago Bears.

1.      Jeremy Langford showed he could be the future. Coming into this week I was upset that Matt Forte wasn’t going to be in the lineup, but I was excited to see what Langford would do with extensive playing time. I have to say I was very impressed by the young running back. He ran the ball hard, as he did back in his Michigan State days, but he also showed me something else. He showed me that he can be a 3 down back. His ability to understand pass protection is what really amazed me. You see young backs come into the NFL and never get to see the field because they can’t pick up the blitz. Langford finished the night with 18 carries for 72 yards and 1 touchdown and let’s not forget about the 3 catches for 70 yards.  The kid had a big night and it was so good to see. As most of you know I’m a big time Forte fan, but watching Langford play Monday gave me confidence that the running back position in Chicago could be in good hands with number 33.

2.      Alshon Jeffery is a beast! Remember when Jeffery was sidelined early is the season with an injury? Yes I don’t remember either because he is playing some stellar football as of late. Jay Cutler was fixated on him Monday night, but sometimes you have to do that when the game plan is calling for it. All night he was a match up problem for the Chargers. Early on in the 1st half he did have some costly drops, but he made up for them later in the half. He said coming into this year he wanted to be looked at as a number one receiver. If he keeps having performances like he has been someone will be backing up the Brinks truck to his house.

3.      Jay Cutler is locked in. The last few years I’ve been really hard on Cutler as a football player. It wasn’t that I didn’t think he had the skill; it was I knew how good he could be. I just wanted to see the guy that everyone said had the tools and use them to his full ability. Monday night they were on full display for the national football world to see. His understanding of Adam Gase’s new offense is phenomenal. He is in total command up at the line checking in and out of plays to get his offense in the best situation to be successful. He can hurt you in the pocket, but if the pressure breaks down, he has the ability to use his feet to extend the play, keep his eyes downfield and throw a strike. He would end the night 27 of 40 passes for 345 yards 2 touchdowns and one interception. Cutler and the offense would have 20 passing 1st downs and convert 9 of 15 3rd downs. Cutler also would end the game as the Bears all-time leader in touchdown passes surpassing the great Sid Luckman. Love him or hate the guy, the Bears would not have one any of their 3 game this season without him. Cutty does it!

4.      Defense plays all 4 quarters. The last few weeks we’ve been talking about this team finishing games, but let’s be honest a lot of that frustration was directed at the Bears defense. They came up short against the Lions and Vikings so why would we expect them to get things going this week, right? The switch was flipped and they went the distance. Early in the 1st half they looked to out of sync with the Chargers and their up tempo offense. Coming out of halftime they started to get things going and in the fourth quarter they buckled down. Lamarr Houston would have a few offside penalties, but he would end strong with back to back sacks in the 4th. Tracy Porter also came up with a big play at the end of the game. Each week I like him more and more. Bryce Callahan is also a ball player and will keep getting better as he keeps getting more playing time. Hats off to Linebacker Jonathan Anderson. He would have 12 tackles on the night, 11 of those were solo. With Shea Mcclellin still out with a knee injury, that meant Christian Jones would be the man calling the defense. He did a good job and had his guys in the right places to make plays. The best thing about all the things I just wrote was most of the guys I mentioned are young and have the potential to get even better. The future of this Bears defense is growing in front of our eyes.

5.      Penalties have to stop. The sign of an undisciplined team is when you see a lot of yellow flags on the field. The Bears can’t afford to hurt themselves not playing smart football. You can blame it on the coaching staff, but it starts with the guys in the locker room paying more attention to detail to the little things. Last night Kyle Long got a costly unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that would knock the Bears out of field goal range. Lamarr Houston also jumped offside a few time. You can’t nitpick because the Bears would get the win, but sometimes penalties can be the difference between winning and losing. The Bears have to address this in practice this week and get batter as they move forward.

The Bears did what I wanted to see them to do in this game. They played hard for 4 quarters and more importantly finished strong. I’m not going to drink the cool-aid and say this team has everything figured out, but I will say they are on the right track after the Monday night win. Sometimes it takes a game like this to turn the light on with a team. Also games like this will build confidence with a ball club and make them believe they can be competitive in any game. The youth movement is in full effect with this team and that will pay off in the long run. Now all you can hope for is that they will keep taking steps forward and not 2 steps back next week. Next up are the St. Louis Rams with a young running back that can play and a defense that is great at getting pressure on the QB. Time to get in the film room, make corrections, get better and find a way to give Jeff Fisher’s team their 5th loss of the season. #BearDown

Follow me on twitter for more Bears conversation @paytonsun.


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